Journal Entries (May 4th & 5th, 2015)

20150504XD-SuchABeauty (10)

Monday, May 04, 2015                                            3:08 PM

Such A Beauty   (2015May04)

I know a woman who is a broth-witch. She takes a mess of crab-claw shells and boils them all day, filling the house with a seaside perfume—and by evening there’s a bowl of sinfully rich shrimp chowder like you’ve never imagined. Or take today, when what looked like the ejecta from my lawnmower catcher, and a handful of various spices, again filled the living room with a multi-layered scent, the subtlety of which hinted at the many ways such a potful could have gone wrong. But when the steam left the pressure cooker, there was a bowl of clear vegetable broth on the kitchen table. I lowered my nose to inhale the steam—paradise. And I’m a meat-broth kind of guy.

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I use to wonder what that woman saw in all those cooking shows—turned out it was a professional interest—she could kill on one of those shows, if she had a mind to.

It’s eighty-two degrees! I have photos from about a month ago—three feet of snow. It may not be climate change, but it’s sure-as-hell hot out there. The bleeding hearts are blooming—the neighbors’ cherry-blossom tree is a pink, humming mob of bumble-bees. The breeze is blowing. This beats snow any day.

It’s a beautiful day. What more can I say? May the fourth be with you.

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**-**-**

Tuesday, May 05, 2015                                            4:07 PM

In Which I Disappear Up My Own Egress   (2015Mar05)

When I type phrases using words like ‘erudite’ or ‘pomposity’ I risk sounding pompous and over-educated. When I employ what I think of as bitter satire I risk sounding childish and flippant. And certainly if I don’t write well, those points become confused with a host of unconnected difficulties. I’m one of those idiots who think that I should bring all my education and emotion to my writing—you’d think I’d never heard of style, much less manipulation.

I blame it on honesty—a concept with which I have much concern. Honesty doesn’t go well with good manners—another concern of mine. Thus I feel constrained in writing what I know—I don’t know anything that doesn’t involve everyone else. Plus fiction (my favorite thing) was, I thought, the ultimate goal—but good creative writing is a process of manipulating the reader and of imagining, well, fictions, i.e. lies. Good fiction writers are good storytellers—they have no compunction about telling tall tales—whereas I’m too hung up on the ethics of both the inventing of entertaining fictions and the recycling of my personal history as fodder for the writing factory.

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I write quite comfortably in this blog. You can’t see the sausage being made—I have to back up and correct every other word because of tremors and generally poor motor control, but the result doesn’t show that. I don’t know—maybe I’m afraid to let myself go as a creative writer—it reveals a great deal about a person. Where I have the courage of my convictions when it comes to sharing my thoughts, as I do in this blog, sharing my feelings is quite another story. A great deal of social posturing is concerned with maintaining a strong front, a poker face, the eye of the tiger, even. Exposing oneself in the writing of fiction feels, for a close reader like myself, very naked-ish—I don’t know if I have the balls.

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What is a story? A young person leaves home and enters the woods, as Joseph Campbell might begin. More modern stories might begin with the humdrum lives of two young people who have no idea they’re about to fall in love. Beyond the adventure/journey story and the love story, there’s the family drama, the saga, the epic, and the mythos—all in various flavors of time period, interlocutor, class, culture, setting, fantasy, psychology, etc. However, there’s been a whole lot of fiction written—and more being published every day. The best modern fiction either lasers in on one aspect of the human condition or else ‘goes big’, interlocking and intertwining several of the above scenarios.

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It’s all become quite huge in concept. Plot-outlined whiteboards end up looking like dense electronic blueprints. Big-money fiction writers use many hands—researchers, writing assistants, an editor or two—and, nowadays, in many cases, aspiring writers try to keep up through involvement in a writing class, a writing workshop, or a writing commune—either geographical or digital in location. While writing still consumes the lion’s share of a writer’s working hours, the idea of a writer working in solitude and sending the finished work off to a publisher is as antique as Jane Austen, who died in 1817. And she was pretty good, too. The rest of us need help—or so it would seem. I’m not sure I have the energy to find out.

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I can virtually hear all you he-men out there: “You don’t know if you have the balls? You don’t know if you have the energy? Quit with all the negative vibes and make it happen, sissy-boy.” Yeah, yeah—I get it. But everybody has a different context. In my context, exercise produces negative results—added effort only brings extreme fatigue. Ordinary human bodies recharge after exertion—mine, not so much, or so quick. Do you remember how, in the Bourne Identity, Matt Damon’s character wonders why he can’t remember his name, but he knows he can run so many miles before his hands start shaking too much to aim a gun? Well, think about that stat—fatigue doesn’t just reduce strength, it reduces nervous control and mental concentration as well.

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The virus is no longer preventing my liver from detoxifying my blood. I can exercise now without flooding my bloodstream with the toxins of exertion. Well, no, that’s wrong. Everyone gets a flood of toxins from exertion but the body, especially the liver, cleans that stuff all up. In my present case the central nervous system got its feelings hurt, back when things were really bad and now it goes off on a tantrum every time it gets a whiff of muscular activity, like talking a short walk—you’d think I’d asked it to scale K-2. So maybe the he-men are right—maybe if I powered through all the pain and tremors and spasms and restless leg for ten or twenty months I could get myself back in the fight. Trouble is, I’ve never been a big ‘self-control’ nut—I have trouble getting myself to drink coffee in the morning—even remembering to.

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Plus, I’ve spent many years with the perspective of one who ruthlessly simplifies life to the least possible motion, conserving a tiny bit of energy for the most essential activities. In my not-so-long-ago world, pushing myself was not only unproductive, it was dangerous. And there is an accretion of coping mechanisms encrusting my life-style: nicotine, caffeine, junk food—all of which would have to go if I attempted to torture myself back into being able to jog around the block. It would mean Olympic-level training just to get me in semi-average shape—at my age, with my stress levels, I could blow a gasket trying to get into the kind of shape I may never see again.

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As you can see, I am beset by doubts and weakness. I’d be embarrassed to admit it if I thought I was the only one—or if I thought it was possible to be a thinking person without such baggage.

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Someone on Facebook remarked, “I hope you know we don’t make as big a deal about it down here in Mexico.”—which makes a strange sort of sense—since Napoleon would have gone on to invade North America, if he hadn’t been stopped in Mexico.

The video is more to show you my garden pics than for the music—not my day, musically.

Wailing and Weeping (2014Aug26)

20140824XD-SkyPix (5)Tuesday, August 26, 2014            2:52 PM

 

Stardate 09 point ho-ho-dee-ho-dee-ho

Status renewal:

Pill count: 12 (morning) 2 (evening)

Sleep Cycle: way off of ‘daytime’ norm

Lungs in terrible pain: taking the cigarettes easy today—no weed!

Fatigue: still hovering at max.

Loneliness: very high

Frustration: barely under control

Drinking: None

Projects: None

Value: None

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Now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s try something more coherent. Last week of August—my melancholy usually waits till the leaves start to turn, but this has been a very un-hot summer and it seems to be leaving without ever really arriving (Not one heat wave this year—where’s global warming when you need it?).

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I’ve been promised a full cure of my HCV—it won’t happen—I’ve been so sick for so long, I’d have to marinate my entire anatomy in ‘cure juice’ to get it all out. HepC will even leave outposts in my bone marrow to repopulate the blood stream and liver after they’ve been ‘completely cleared’. In my bone marrow! Jeez.

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I am on my own. That is to say, I’m not alone—there’s Spence here all the time, in his own building, but there—and Claire takes care of me in the morning and at night with meals and pills and hundreds of other things—and my friend, Sherryl, stops by nearly every day and we have a chat or a cuppa. But that gives me only the barest minimum of contact to humans—no hanging around or long talks or collaborations on interesting ideas, no physical contact to speak of, no intense interest in me or my doings—just maintenance of my continued breathing, really.

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I try to fill the emptiness I feel by playing the piano or Facebooking or writing (like this)—none of it works completely; it just provides a framework for me to thrash about within. Until my illness, I was unaware of the very real, physical stamina that thought requires. Now it is plain as the nose, as they say, and it has become my nemesis—I can still think, but not very deeply or very long—and that’s where intelligence lies. My former intelligence lies afar. My superpower is gone and I’m helpless in the grip of the Red Sun.

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See the good? Find that silver lining? Yeah, sorry—I can’t seem to oblige. Truth is, I’m barely alive. I’m a burden on my family. I’m a lousy role-model for my son. I don’t leave the house. I’m sitting on a pile of atrophied muscles and forgotten skills. I’m not involved—I’m missing the party. I want so much—I’m still wanting a few things I’ve become too old to ever achieve. I’ve been dying, literally, for nearly two decades—it’s been a parade of horror and pain and isolation and heartbreak and helplessness.

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Have I become wiser? Has the refining fire burnt away impurities and left me with the pure gold of reason and mercy? There’s some truth to that—I am wiser than I was—but to what purpose? My lack of people skills is not at all helped by being wiser—wise is no party-trick, it’s more like x-ray vision. It takes the false front away, but it takes all the fun with it. X-rays of beautiful bodies are just x-rays. X-rays of a celebration show the noise but fail to capture the mirth. I was much happier being intelligent, but foolish.

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Music is all I have now—I listen to it constantly. I pay more attention to soundtracks than to special effects. But I’ve built my own tragedy into music, as well—by trying the impossible, trying to make my own music. I should have stuck with just listening. I have no natural talent, and all my hard work is towards fighting fatigue, not finding beauty in what I do. It’s Sisyphean, and what’s worse, self-imposed. What was I thinking?

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My greatest fear is to find myself perfectly healthy and alive again. I’m fast approaching sixty years old—how the hell do I start over at sixty? How do I recreate a social life at sixty? How do I re-enter the workforce at sixty? It will be hard enough to reconcile myself to the erasure of my forties and fifties, how am I supposed to just pick up where I left off? If this medicine really works, I will find out just where I ‘pick up’.

Truly, I can’t simply start off where I left off. One of the hardest things about my illness was how long it took to be diagnosed. I spent many years being unfairly accused of alcoholism and drug abuse—just at the point where I had stopped my wild ways for some time—and both things, the accusing and the reining in of my lifestyle, were (unbeknownst to anyone, including me) the effects of my increasing liver failure and the blood toxicity it causes.

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Everyone, including my wife, my kids, and myself, resented my ‘laziness’ and my ‘lack of willpower’. I thought being forced out of management and getting fired was what I deserved. I assumed that I had no one to blame but myself—I laid such a heavy guilt trip on myself that, when I finally found out the truth, I was glad to learn I had a fatal disease—it was a far better reality than the self-hatred I was immersed in.

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Thus, I must pick up where I left off my health, not my life. I remember a nervous, overly serious guy in his thirties who had a head full of plans and dreams and more. I remember working hard, sometimes through the night—it didn’t faze me, I was always obsessive about projects. This was before the internet and I spent a great deal of time answering questions—I was a walking Wiki, calculator, copyeditor, proofreader, and history timeline. I loved being over-educated. One of my long-term goals was a PhD—I had planned to take school courses forever. Now I can hardly remember my name.

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No, I fear that health may prove a harder life than my mostly bed-ridden, everyday usual. We all fear change, even beneficial change. Plus, my memories betray me—the agony of getting out of bed and getting to work (during those years when I didn’t realize I belonged in a hospital) was a daily hell. The frustration of staring at the computer screen and not knowing what to do, when I was used to programing without flow-charts, the entire structure always firm in my mind, was unbearably humiliating. The heartbreak at not having the strength to spend time with my kids, to take them places, or do school projects together—I hated myself worst of all for that.

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Those are some of the reasons I don’t look back on my active past with longing—I fear the return of an active life because my last one ended in torture and near-madness. But I will try. I’m hoping to find myself capable enough to build a happy lifeand find some worthwhile work (I’m damned if I’ve gone through all this so I can work at Burger King in my sixties!). If my hands stop shaking, at least somewhat, I may just go back to drawing full-time—the internet provides a variety of ways to sell original artwork. If I get some concentration back, I’ll try writing fiction. I will definitely get in shape, no matter how much it hurts—I’m most tired of all of ‘being tired’.

 

Well, that’s my wailing and weeping for today.

“Some Of Us, All Of Us, And The Freedom Of Leaches”

What if Wealthy Leaches suppress their own Species,

Rationalizing, saying Leadership denied is Chaos

And Freedom must be Framed in a Breadboard

Of Irrational Lives—Half Fear, Half Toil—with

Circuitry of Specie determining the Paths

Open to ‘Freedom’ and Keeping the Power Supply

To Themselves?

.

.

.

What if Wars are the Leaches, Tilting the Pinball Game

Before our Metal Sphere gets the Lay of the Land;

Before we Finish the Thought of What is Real,

What is a Game, and How to Change Our World

Through Sensible Rules that Banish the Laws

Against Our Human Condition, and Allow Us

The Freedom to be Good?

.

.

We can be Good to Each Other—We can Learn How.

We can Rise above Capitalism’s Enslavement

And Arrive at Livelihoods that Keep us From Evil.

You and I May be Frightened. You and I May be Vicious.

You and I may be Greedy. You and I may be Hopeless—

Hungry, Confused, Subjugate, Excluded, or Hated.

We may all of Us have spent so long Under the Whip

That We can’t even Imagine another Way—

We may Fear our own Freedom.

.

.

Some will Train, Some will Transport, Some will Arrive

At the Combat Zone—the Zone of Madness,

So familiar with the Gushing of Blood and Screaming of

Townspeople whose Eyes Accuse Some of Us

Of discharging our Firearms, of Murdering Innocents.

Some of Us will Suffer, except for the Fortunate Fallen

Whose War is Over and will Never need to Kill

Again—Some of Us will disperse into a Red Mist

Of Shame and Guilt and Rage and Panic and

Some of Us will feel the Loss of Themselves,

Who used to be People with Freedom.

.

.

The Leaches will wear Frowns and Speak Seriously

Of the Need for this Insanity—but will still Find

Time to Repress the rest of Us in the Name of Nationality.

The Leaches will Grow Fatter on the Sale of Arms

And the subsequent Sale of Prosthetic Arms.

Pride and Determination will re-echo from their

Megaphones—Sanity will be explained Away—

All of Us will Work Harder, Work Longer,

And spend Less Time asking Questions of

The Whereabouts of our Freedom.

.

Some of Us will be Shamed and Persecuted.

Some of Us will be Forced to Prostrate Ourselves

To the Employer—The One who Exchanges Bread

For Pride, Fear for Security, and Obedience for Will.

The Institutional Bully of Middle Management will

Both Give and Receive the Torture of Life spent

As Chattel. They will Ape their Top Management

Masters in the Vain Hope of the Same Power

The Top-Most seemingly Own (Though They, too,

Will have an Owner Holding the Leash

Of their Freedom).

Some of Us will be Driven Mad, finding in our

Delusions the Only

Semblance of

Freedom.